NTSB Says Icing Caused Fatal Sinking of FV Destination in Bering Sea

A screenshot from video of the Destination as it arrived in Dutch Harbor carrying 200 crab pots on February 9, two days before the accident. (Video courtesy of April Lane crewmember)

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a marine accident brief and a related safety alert warning mariners of the dangers of icing following the agency’s investigation of the sinking of the fishing vessel Destination in the Bering Sea last February with the loss of all six crew members. 

The 110-foot, 196-gross ton, fishing vessel Destination sank in frigid, remote waters 2.6 miles northwest of St. George Island, Alaska, on February 11, 2017.

None of the six crewmembers aboard were found and are presumed to have perished in the accident.

While the exact nature of the accident is unknown because there were no survivors, no witnesses and no mayday call from the Destination, evidence analyzed by the NTSB indicates the Destination quickly capsized and subsequently sank after an accumulation of ice on the vessel and its fishing gear after encountering forecasted heavy freezing spray conditions.

Related: Searchers Locate FV Destination Wreck in Bering Sea

AIS trackline of the Destination leading up to the site of the sinking on February 11. From left to right: (1) estimated rates of icing along the voyage from Dutch Harbor to St. George Island; (2) last 83 minutes of the transit west of St. George Island, where the EPIRB was later recovered nearby; and (3) positions and corresponding times for the vessel’s passage from Sand Point through Cold Bay and Dutch Harbor to ultimately St. George Island near where the vessel was discovered in 256 feet of water (42 fathoms).

The NTSB’s Marine Accident Brief states the probable cause for the sinking was the captain’s decision to proceed during heavy freezing spray conditions without ensuring the vessel had a margin of stability to withstand an accumulation of ice or without taking sufficient mitigating action to avoid or limit the effects of icing.

“From tragedy the NTSB draws knowledge to improve the safety of us all, and the tragic loss of the crew of the Destination serves as a stark and somber reminder of the perilous conditions mariners can face during winter operations,” said Brian Curtis, Director of the NTSB’s Office of Marine Safety. “Safety Alert 18-074 reminds mariners to prepare for icing conditions and the actions to take to maintain vessel stability when icing occurs.”

The full marine accident brief is available at https://goo.gl/afFxQb and Safety Alert 18-074 is available at https://goo.gl/Avzsy8.

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